One year on from the Bohol earthquake: a new home and a new beginning

Publié: 13 octobre 2014 20:00 CET

By Maryjane Patulilic, IFRC

One year ago, 58-year-old Harold Lumictin, his wife and their six children were made homeless when their house was destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Island of Bohol in the Philippines. In total, 222 people died and more than 670,000 families were affected across the Central Visayas region. The epicentre of the quake was in Bohol where thousands of families have been struggling to recover. For almost a year Harold and his family lived in a makeshift shelter, made from materials salvaged from their old home and a tarpaulin for a roof.

“It was really hard to lose our home not just because I invested all my strength and sweat in building it, but because of the discomfort it has caused for my family,” Lumictin said.   

Thousands of families in Bohol faced a similar situation; camped out for months amid the debris of their former homes. Each month Lumictin’s children fell sick having to endure the extreme heat during the day and the cold nights. “Life has never been easy, and it got even harder since the earthquake,” he said. He is chainsaw operator whose family relies solely on the small income he receives from cutting timber.

Recently the family received a new home from the Red Cross who have been supporting the recovery of many families in Bohol. “Our new house offers new hope and a new beginning to my family. This house is far better than our previous one. My family and I will really take good care of this blessing we received through Red Cross. Daghan kaajung salamat! (Thank you very much!)” he said.

The Red Cross prioritizes support to the most vulnerable families. Assessments are carried out prior to the selection of beneficiaries so that help is given to those who are least capable of rebuilding on their own. Over 200 families whose houses were completely destroyed have received new homes, saying goodbye to the discomfort they have experienced after living in tents and makeshift shelters for almost a year.

Houses constructed by the Red Cross has solid base with a timber frame and roof beams and a pre-painted corrugated galvanized iron roof. 1,700 families whose homes were severely damaged were also given cash grants to buy construction materials that would go towards the repair needs of their homes.

Aside from shelter interventions, the Philippine Red Cross has supported the rebuilding of water and sanitation facilities in ten schools. “This support is beneficial to us teachers, and especially to students. We now have access to clean water and toilet facilities which is badly needed given the high number of students we have in our school,” said Esterlito Cantones, school principal of Sto Niño de la Paz Elementary School in Loon.

In Bohol itself, a Philippine Red Cross field hospital is still operating to augment the capacity of local medical facilities. Supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Philippine Red Cross is continuing its recovery operations. But extensive needs remain in shelter and rehabilitation of health and school facilities. Many families still need help considerable help.

“One year on, we should be reminded that a lot still needs to be done in Bohol,” said Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. “But it should also remind us of the spirit of the Philippine Red Cross, whose volunteers and staff – most of whom were affected by the quake – are responding as a single unit to rebuild better in Bohol. On behalf of the Red Cross and the Boholanos, I thank all those who supported us and gave the families here new hope.”